So I guess it’s always going to be controversial writing about why I’m not convinced about the merits of International Women’s Day, on International Women’s Day. But I promise that’s not why I’m doing it. But if I don’t do it now then I’ll have forgotten it.
I have actually spent most of today thinking about International Women’s Day, so in that respect it has been very effective.
As a woman, I am, it has to be said, exceedingly privileged. I am privileged because I am white, I’m middle class (with working class pretensions), I have a job I enjoy, I have freedom, I have an education, I have never been abused or raped or forced into marriage, made to cover my body, prevented from driving a car, lived under any kind of slavery or oppression or any of the myriad grim and awful things that make millions of women’s lives around the world miserable because they’re not the same as me, or they have experienced those things.
And let me say right here and now that any organisation that aims to highlight or prevent those things has my absolute support and gratitude. Because it’s important that people hear about and do what they can to stop those things, and we need to have our belief systems challenged that the nice cosy existences most of us have in this country, are not de rigeur for a lot of women, and that yes, inequality and misogyny does still exist, often uncomfortably close to home.
If fucking Cameron had told me to ‘calm down dear’, I would have vaulted across the Table and introduced my boot to his trouser department. As a for instance. Patronising little shit. And I don’t vault.
Likewise the several recent media furore about university boys’ poor humour and ill-conceived t-shirts and washing instructions.
They really aren’t acceptable or to be merely shrugged off.
But I can’t really get behind International Women’s Day.
Because if we are going to think about those things, then we really need to be thinking about them every day.
Otherwise it’s like Valentine’s Day. A totemic gesture to ‘romance’ that is dead the other 364 (or 5) days of the year. Let’s shut the little women up by giving them a whole day when they can feel special and noticed. That’ll keep them quiet.
And then I can’t help but feel that by throwing all women together in one nonspecific lump simply because we’re not male is a tad self defeating. It doesn’t really feel empowering or feminist to need a special day simply because I happened to be born with an X chromosome.
Therefore it could be argued that it’s actually diluting the important messages about the realities of life for the many women who are suffering and do need to have their plights recognised. I’m all for sisterhood but how on earth could I claim to have anything in common with those women beyond our shared possession of boobs and a vag?
So bring me an Equal Pay Day, and a Fight Domestic Violence Day, and a Hate Misogyny Day, and an Empower the Raped Day, and a Defeat the Oppressors Day and a day that hears the individual voices of all the women who have something serious to shout about.
Because right now, for all the endless chatter about International Women’s Day, I feel like I’m being deafened by a whisper.